March 27, 2023

In my experience, I have found that several things in life come equipped with an unwritten rule book. For instance, everyone knows you should always tip your server, you should never pick your nose in public, and it is important to be polite when riding the city bus. In my 20 years on this earth I have learned a thing or two about some of these situations.

In fact, just yesterday I was in Toronto on a city bus and a man took a swig from a bottle of rum he had secretly stashed in his coat. He then proceeded to ask the elderly woman sitting beside him for some money. I could be wrong but I would like to believe most people on the bus could have done without that performance, especially the elderly woman.

Considering I only use public transit once or twice a week (if that), I don’t know how qualified I am to be assuming there should be a particular etiquette for riding the bus. I do believe though, that common sense is closely related to these so-called “unwritten rules.”

It’s common sense that when choosing to sit in a double seat, you sit on the inside seat so that another person can take the second seat. Your backpack doesn’t need a seat; people need seats. A closely related issue is when people don’t give up their seats at the front of the bus for the elderly, disabled or those with young children in strollers. What makes you think that your comfort trumps theirs?

Nothing bothers me more than when I do leave the outside seat beside me empty and someone comes along and doesn’t respect the personal bubble. The personal bubble is another unwritten rule that requires you to give strangers an appropriate amount of personal space. There is an understanding between parties that neither of you invade that space. I cannot count the number of times I have been nudged, hit, leaned on and even sneezed on during a bus ride. This leads me to believe I am one of the few bus-goers who is aware of the personal bubble rule.

My biggest pet peeve though, is when smokers stake their claim on my breathing space. Regardless of my view on smoking, nobody should have to be forced to inhale the stench of smoke from a stranger’s clothes. If you want to smoke a quick cigarette before hopping on this confined, slow-moving transportation vehicle, by all means, you have every right to. But would it be too much to ask that those people choose a seat where there are fewer people sitting? Obviously a lot of the time this is an unavoidable issue, but nevertheless, it will always grind my gears.

I am clearly the type of person who doesn’t enjoy taking the city bus and, in fact, I avoid it at all costs. When I do take it, there are many other happenings that take place during my hour-long commute back to Waterloo that drive me crazy. My best solution to any of these problems is to put on some headphones and suck it up. People will be people and there’s nothing I can do to change that.

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